How did businesses attract customers before the internet? Paper flyers? Television ads? Word of mouth? All of those methods of advertising are still in play, and still do wonders for brands of all shapes and sizes.
But the reality of today’s marketplace is that every business needs to be online. We’ve said this again and again. For one thing, your prospective customers are already socializing, searching, and shopping on the internet; it only makes sense to direct your efforts toward reaching your next clients where they’re already spending their time – on Google results pages, on review aggregators like Yelp, and across social media platforms.
What’s more, there is plenty of evidence that investing in digital marketing actually generates significantly higher ROI than other methods. It can be relatively inexpensive to get started with many of the essential elements that make up a digital marketing campaign; once you have a foot in the door, the tools available on search engines and social networks are some of the most sophisticated ever created, allowing you to specifically target and convert the users most likely to work with your brand.
And now we hear the “buts” coming…
But I already have a website!
But will I ever see any sales from digital marketing?
We understand why it can be intimidating to get started with digital marketing. Really, we do! The most common reservations we hear – about a lack of concrete value, about the time it takes to really step up a marketing campaign – all make a lot of sense, and it can be daunting to try to unpack all of the benefits of digital marketing at once.
So let’s focus instead on one aspect of digital marketing today; in doing so, hopefully, we’ll be able to shine a light on the different components that go into a comprehensive digital campaign, illustrating how these pieces of a whole all interact and come together to really create value for brands of all sizes.
Let’s focus on that first “but” – the website. Plenty of brands create a website and leave it at that, operating under the assumption that simply making themselves available on the internet will be enough to secure leads. But how are people going to find your website? What are they going to do on it? How will you start to see the amount of traffic that will translate into real sales and signups for your brand?
How Do I Get More Website Traffic?
Want to make that website useful? Then you’ll want to make sure it gets traffic with a comprehensive approach to digital marketing, centered around content creation. Here are a few ways to get started increasing your traffic right now:
Improve Your Website's SEO
SEO is the common shorthand for “search engine optimization,” a catch-all for the techniques and artistry behind getting your website recognized and ranked on search engines like Google or Bing. Ensuring that your site ranks on results pages will lead to higher rates of organic traffic, as searchers looking to answer a question or solve a problem find themselves funneled to your website, where, with a little strategy, they can be funneled all the way into shooting you an email, signing up for more information, or even making a purchase.
What goes into SEO? The primary force that helps you stand out with search engines is unique, original content. Creating original blog and multimedia pages benefits your site with search engines in a variety of ways.
First and foremost, research suggests that search engines are more likely to favor larger websites, or those with more discrete pages, as the crawlers and algorithms that generate search rankings tend to see these sites as more trustworthy.
Beyond the numbers, however, creating specific, detailed content allows you to reach people who are making more targeted, specific queries. Think of how hard it may be to register as a Google result for “car for sale Chicago,” for instance, as opposed to “SUV 2010 or newer Chicago.” But if your car dealership creates a distinct page for that 2013 SUV that just rolled onto your lot, you can capture the one or two (or more) dedicated searchers who are more likely to pull the trigger on a sale. Over time, all of these long-tail searches can add up, to the tune of a ton of extra organic traffic for your brand.
And you don’t need to exclusively focus on hyper-narrow topics; instead, you can mix up what you post about on your blog based around a few “content pools,” or subjects, that you return to again and again. You can monitor the topics that are generating clicks for you using Google analytics, refocusing on specific search queries or categories as you have more and more data to pull from.
A few last things to keep in mind as you consider what goes into SEO:
- Remember that readers like content that is well-written, deeply researched, and easy to read, so focus on your audience, rather than bots
- With that said, there are a few places on your page to focus on to make your content easier to find and categorize for search engines, including the URL, the meta-description, and any captions or title tags you use to break up your copy
- Consider the ways in which you can encourage users to share or interact with your copy; your efforts can be as simple as always making sure your headlines are catchy and informative, or as deep as adding social share buttons to your pages.
- Consider diversifying your content by broadening your scope to include videos, infographics, podcasts, or games – all anchored by searchable, crawler-friendly text.
Use Social Media to Increase Your Site's Traffic
One big mistake that businesses make when considering digital marketing is to think of their social media profiles as completely separate and divorced from their website. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
While social media certainly can be put to use for its own ends – including building positive buzz around your business and successfully interacting with customers – it is also an immensely valuable tool for driving referral traffic to your website. Why? It all comes down, once again, to content.
The same original, high quality content you create to bolster you brand’s SEO efforts can also be put to work on social media; share this content with your friends and followers, and you’ll see another stream of clicks and traffic coming to your site. At the same time, the search engines you’re trying to target will look at your social shares as “backlinks,” which suggests that your site is a valuable resource connected to other parts of the digital ecosystem; in turn, Google and other search engines will rank your site even more highly.
Of course, in today’s saturated landscape, knowing which social platforms to use – and how to use them – isn’t as easy as it was a few years ago. Using paid advertisements on Facebook or Twitter was practically unheard of five years ago, for instance; now, paid social promotions are the biggest trend in digital marketing, and have become all but essential.
To help you decide which social platforms to work, we’ve created a few comprehensive guides to the biggest players in the social field. At the links below, you’ll find everything you need to know about:
Email Marketing - Digital Newsletters
What could be more of your daily routine than firing up your email? Whether you’re pulling it up as you settle into your desk at work or simply scrolling through your notifications as you sit on the bus at the end of the day, email is a core part of daily life for millions of Americans. It’s hard to imagine life without it.
When something becomes that fundamental to everyday life, it can be easy to forget how much value there is to be gleaned from it. Email marketing may feel a little unsexy, but it is a powerful workhorse, one that can help build and sustain brand loyalty – and drive plenty of additional traffic to your site.
For one thing, email marketing helps encourage retention; a visitor who came to your site once and decided to sign up for your email marketing campaign without making a purchase can be persuaded to return with the right combination of persuasive content, promotional offers, and behind-the-scenes updates.
With email marketing you’ll also be able to ensure a steady stream of traffic. As with social media, you control how often your content gets shared over email; while you can’t control clickthrough or open rates, you can ensure that your messaging is always reaching a certain number of eyeballs, rather than purely relying on people discovering your pages via search. It’s hard to overstate how much of a difference all of those little, consistent clicks can make when you add them up!
Website Optimization Impacts Your Site's Clicks
So we’ve discussed the many ways in which you can drive and funnel prime sources of traffic to your website. That should do the trick, right? It’s important to realize that there is one other massive aspect that will affect whether your website successfully draws in traffic – the site itself!
In addition to keyword optimizing your on-page SEO elements, as we discussed above, there are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to boosting the traffic that comes to your site. One to always remember is load times: Users are far less likely to end up on your page if it fails to load within a set time, as little as a second or two. Instead, potential customers will simply backtrack and head to the next result, rather than waiting for your page to load.
It’s also important to consider the many devices and platforms that users today will be using to come to your pages. Specifically, we’re saying that you need to think about optimizing your site for mobile users, those who are working with smartphones and tablets – which, in today’s multi-screen world, may be a majority of your potential customers. Not only will audiences back away from a site that is unresponsive or slow to load on mobile, but they may not even be able to find your site in the first place, as Google now significantly factors mobile optimization and “code bloat” into its ranking criteria.
Have any more questions about what it takes to launch or grow a business online? Ready to get started designing a fresh website, creating branded content, and getting the word out on social media? Whatever your needs, the Geek team is here to help! Drop us a line today to get the conversation started!